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Public Health updating reporting process for COVID-19 case numbers

Screenshot of KFL&A Public Health dashboard from Jan. 9, 2022.

Today, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health and Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health will be updating the information reported on their respective COVID-19 dashboards, in response to recent changes in COVID-19 testing eligibility.

As announced in late December, the Ontario government has made significant changes to the eligibility for publicly funded Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, in order to ensure testing is available for individuals who work in or attend highest risk settings, according to a release from KFL&A Public Health.

“Publicly funded PCR testing is now limited to symptomatic high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk settings,” Public Health stated. “This change came into effect on December 31, 2021, and as a result, positive cases confirmed by PCR testing will underestimate the true number of individuals with COVID-19 in the community. To address this, local public health agencies are changing how COVID-19 cases are reported in their regions.”

Changes to the dashboards include: 

  • Reporting of cases limited to ‘high-risk cases’, and only active and new cases.
  • Discontinued reporting any Variants of Concern (as Omicron is the dominant variant, and only a small number of PCR tests will be screened for Omicron).
  • Discontinued reporting cases by age, source of acquisition, geography, and status of vaccinations, as high-risk cases only represent a segment of the population.
  • Discontinued reporting cases per 100,000 as case rates no longer reflect the rate of the whole population.
  • A new graph that depicts hospitalizations over time.
  • Differentiating between data from before and after the change in testing eligibility on all existing graphs for testing and cases over time, as the time periods are not comparable.
  • Reporting of new outbreaks is limited to high-risk settings such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, and congregate living settings.

Going forward, the COVID-19 dashboards will be updated on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Public Health said.

For more information on changes to the COVID-19 dashboards and to view high-risk COVID-19 cases by region.

The government of Ontario provided information on recommendations for PCR testing and the eligible groups.

Public Health reminds residents that testing is not needed to know what to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19. ALL individuals with symptoms of the virus MUST isolate for a minimum of 5 days, even if you are not eligible for a PCR test, the agency said.

As of time of publishing the KFL&A Public Health dashboard had not been updated. Kingstonist will adapt reporting to reflect these changes.

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